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December 29, 2012


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James Grimmelmann

That's a lot of money and staff. Can you say more about what the CFE does? Or rather, how it does what it does, since teaching, research, and leadership together add up to the entire mission of a university? How in particular does this specialized and centralized administrative office advance such a broad and distributed mission?

Eric Muller

The lion's share of the budget goes to staff salary. We provide workshops, consultations, and other resources on best practices in teaching, assessment, course redesign, distance education/online learning, and the like. We help faculty interface with the enormous research infrastructure on the campus and provide workshops, training, and consultations on funding, running grants-supported research, and the like. We offer workshops and consultations on leadership skills, productivity, and management. We curate an online faculty development resource for faculty. We assist grad students with their teaching. And we undertake a variety of specialized projects for the Provost's Office.

Susan Poser

I took a leave from teaching in 2007 and spent three years in central administration, and then went back to the law school (U of Nebraska) as dean in 2010. I too have written about some of the lessons I learned, and how it affects my thinking about central administration now that I am in between it and the faculty. The essay is coming out in the Toledo Law Review this winter. What you wrote definitely rings true - I had no idea how busy and disjointed administration could be, and how complex the university is. I look forward to your blogposts.

David J. Garrow

Are you able to speak at all frankly about the impact of the AfAm/athletics fraudulent courses scandal on the wider UNC-CH faculty community? I've not been in Chapel Hill since 1984, but I've read all the N&O stories, and have been deeply dismayed by the (seeming) lack of response/outrage by the UNC-CH community, the one (Holden Thorp) resignation notwithstanding. Apologies if this is a question you'd rather not have posed, but I have very fond memories of Dan Pollitt & Barry Nakell...

Eric Muller

David, my position as Center Director gives me no greater insight into the impact of the scandal on the university community than does my position as a member of the law school faculty. I think it's fair to say that the faculty has found the situation demoralizing. There are some who view it as much-ado-about-little; these folks tend to see it as a vendetta of sorts against the university by the Raleigh News & Observer. I think that's probably a minority view. There are some -- again, I suspect a minority -- who think it's time to get the university out of big-time athletics. And I would guess that the majority view it as a regrettable but not terribly surprising cost of doing a business that we are in and can't get ourselves out of. There are plenty of faculty members who, like so many others in the region, just adore our sports teams (especially our basketball team), and would and could not imagine the university without a basketball team that isn't a contender for a national championship or building itself toward being a contender.

Dan Pollitt, by the way, was a friend; it's so sad that he's gone. I arrived just after Barry Nakell left, but I do see him out and about from time to time (often on his bicycle).

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